Travel is great! It lifts you up, broadens your horizons, and shows you what a small place you occupy in this world (to paraphrase Flaubert). Beyond that it can totally wreck you, too. Changes in sleep patterns, diet, altitude, and coming down from that ‘travel high can leave you exhausted, cranky, and maybe even depressed upon your return home. The good news is that with a little preparation, you can avoid most of the post-travel slump.
Whether I am returning from a 3-day business trip to the neighboring state or a 6-week international junket, I use a five-step plan to ensure that my post-travel recovery is effective. Just to note, the length of step 4 varies by how long I was gone. These tips are simple and can easily be adapted to your lifestyle and timeline. I hope you find them useful!
- Return to the House of NOTHING. By this I mean you should ensure that EVERYTHING that needs to be done the week (or two) that you return has been done before you leave for your trip. Having all the hum-drum things addressed before you leave allows you to return to a calm environment with nothing to distract you from re-energizing and reminiscing about your great trip. I know this adds more to the pre-trip preparation, but it is worth it and if you can only do one of the five steps, do this one!
- Pay the bills. Why ruin the post-travel glow with bill paying?
- Wash, dry, fold ALL laundry. This means you don’t have to do laundry the day you get home.
- Change the bed linens. Everyone loves to slide between clean sheets when they come home from unfamiliar bedding.
- Empty the dishwasher. One less thing to have to do the next day.
- Clean the bathroom, kitchen, and floors. Again, it is one less thing to do and makes for a nicer environment.
- Schedule any household services (lawn, pest, cleaning, pool, etc.). Ideally, schedule them to arrive 2 days after you get back.
- Gas up the car (whether you are taking it to the airport or leaving it at home). This way, you can immediately jump in the car to go somewhere else (but why would you?).
- Stock the pantry and fridge with food and beverages that will keep. Nothing makes me crankier than getting home after a long day of travel and realizing that there is nothing healthy to eat. More on this below.
- Schedule pet pick up for the next morning or arrange for them to be delivered home a few hours after you get there. Cuddling our furry friends is immediately calming and, no doubt, they missed you!
- Hitch your horse to the health wagon. Chances are your eating habits changed while you were traveling and I bet they weren’t as healthy as normal. Different meal times, lots of alcohol, yummy local delicacies, and even different water can upset your innards which throws your body out of whack. To recover quickly, drink a big glass of water when you get home, whether you feel thirsty or not. If you don’t like tap water, have a bottle of sparkling water ready to go. Also, be sure you have some healthy options waiting at home for you. It can be hard to keep fruit and vegetables fresh while you are gone, but depending on what you like it is possible. Worst case scenario, stock your pantry with several cans of low sodium soup to enjoy when you get home.
For me, I have a post-trip routine that I swear by to make me feel better almost instantly.
- As soon as I get home, I drop my bags, and cuddle on the dog. Then, I drink a glass of water and make a protein shake. The next morning, I make a fresh green juice and then, have my coffee. This settles my stomach, fills me up with healthy stuff, and delivers a boost of nutrients I need. Right as rain, every time. The recipes are at the bottom of this post, so keep scrolling if you are interested.
- Pad your timeline. Give yourself more time than you think you need at the airport, train station, or even on the road. Rushing to catch a flight, make a train, or scream down the interstate is just asking to be in a bad mood when you arrive home. It costs nothing to be early (Oooh, that’s good – I am going to trademark that quote, right now! =D ). I do not like getting up early but I would rather hide my pre-dawn puffy eyes behind dark sunglasses than race to the airport to catch my 6am flight. If you are not an early riser, set two alarms and move your alarm device away from your ‘slapping snooze’ hand. Get up, get dressed, and get going. You can sleep on the plane or go to bed early when you get home. I promise you that giving yourself more time results in a more relaxed trip home, even if you get delayed.
- Make it all about YOU! Schedule in a day or two to recuperate. If you have a week away and arrive home Sunday, take Monday off. Giving yourself a buffer day to get back to normal sleep patterns will do you a world of good. When I return from business travel, I ensure I have no must-do plans for Friday night or all day Saturday. This means, I can catch up on any Netflix shows, go through my mail, call friends and family or JUST VEG THE HELL OUT and stare at my walls. The time is mine and that’s the point. If you have kids, plan for some low-key activities, like a walk in the park, game night, or a living room floor picnic. Something that allows you to all spend quiet, relaxed time together in the bubble between the frenzy of the trip or the bustle of daily life.
- Look somewhere over the rainbow. Give yourself something fun to anticipate. Maybe you schedule a weekend visit to your city’s museums (backyard tourist, baby!), plan a barbecue with friends, or set a date to create your children’s travel scrapbooks – including them in the creation, of course. Planning a trip is exciting and taking the trip is exciting. Going back into daily life cold turkey is NOT exciting. With a bit of future fun, you can ease the post-travel slump.
There you have it! Five tips to post-trip recovery. Of course, you could avoid post-travel slump by hitting the road and staying gone forever but until then, what do you think? Would by plan work for you? Did I miss your favorite tip? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading, travelers!
Post-travel Recovery Shake – I put all ingredients into my bullet blender/mixer and mix on high longer that I think I should to be sure the ginger gets ground up. This settles my stomach, fills me up, delivers a boost of nutrients and relaxes me. This recipe comes in at about 240 calories (if I use almond milk) for an 8 ounce serving (which occupies a 12 ounce glass after blending).
- 1 scoop Vega Protein and Greens powder
- 8 ounces of liquid
- Almond milk (a carton lasts about 3 weeks) and sometimes, I will make almond milk ice cubes before I leave. If I forget….
- A fresh banana, if it’s a trip of 3 days or less (ripening, you know)
- Frozen fruit like pineapple and mango chunks or blueberries, if the trip lasts more than 3 days
- 1/2 inch of ginger root
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
Post-travel Recovery Juice – I run the ingredients through my juicing machine and enjoy this before my coffee for an infusion of hydration, leafy greens, fiber, and tons of vitamin A and C. This recipe comes in at about 230 calories for 20 ounces.
- 2 cucumbers
- 2 Granny Smith apples
- 4 leaves of Kale
- 1 lime
- 1/2 inch of ginger root
- A small bunch of parsley
- 1 medium tomato
- 1 kiwi (the fruit, not the bird)